North Coast footy players from left: Phoebe Baptiste, Poppy Johnstone, April Devine, Shania King
Four local footy players and North Coast Academy of Sport AFLW athletes have gained selection in the QBE Sydney Swans’ Academy recently launched Top End program, putting them into the National Talent Pathway and one significant step closer to the big time.
Phoebe Baptiste (Coffs Harbour Breakers) and Poppy Johnston (Sawtell Toormina Saints) have gained places in the Top End Female Under 17 program, while April Devine (Coffs Harbour Breakers) and Shania King (Northern Beaches Blues) are in the Under 18 squad.
NCAS AFL alumni Angus Anderson (Sawtell Toormina Saints) and Will Kelly (Port Macquarie Magpies) also gaining selection in the Swans’ Top End Male program.
The Sydney Swans are eyeing entry into the AFLW in coming years and have created the Top End Program to unearth their inaugural crop of elite female players. The North Coast is rapidly developing a reputation as an incubator of AFLW players with Brianna McFarlane, previous NCAS athlete being listed at Brisbane Lions and NCAS AFLW alumnus Georgia Breward at the Gold Coast Suns, and this latest crop of locals are enhancing the region’s reputation.
The squads train weekly in Sydney, with places in the Swans Female Under 17 and Under 19 teams up for grabs in two Academy games against the GWS Giants, and a NAB League match against the Geelong Falcons in March. April and Shania will also have the chance to press for places in the Allies team (NSW, ACT, Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia) that competes in the National Championships on the Gold Coast in April.
The chance to impress the Swans came as a result of the four players’ inclusion in the North Coast Academy of Sport (NCAS) AFLW program. NCAS coaches were given the chance to nominate suitable players and the four girls grabbed the chance with both hands.
D’Arcy Van den Bossche, Executive Director of NCAS said that the NCAS program ensures that regional athletes have the chance to pursue their sporting dream. “We are incredibly proud to be able to offer North Coast athletes the AFLW program throughout 2020-21, in what has been a challenging time for sport. We have been able to support our largest squad of girls to date, again with a female-only coaching team.
“Outcomes such as Phoebe, Poppy, April and Shania’s selections into the Swans’ Top End program give regional athletes reason to work hard because pathways exist and opportunity is around us.”
Congratulations to all players on their selections. We wish them well as they move forward on the National Talent Pathway.